Last week Imam Shaker Elsayed of the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, was roundly condemned after a video emerged, courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), in which he recommends female genital mutilation to avoid "hypersexuality."
Elsayed has since tried to withdraw his comments and apologized, saying "I admit that I should have avoided it. I hereby take it back. And I do apologize to all those who are offended by it."
Elsayed's weak-tea apology has not slowed the loud calls in the Muslim community for the Dar al-Hijrah mosque to fire him. But on Monday, influential Islamist thinker and activist Tariq Ramadan released a 10 minute video on Facebook expressing support for Elsayed staying on. Ramadan stated Muslim leaders who advocate for FGM should be understood as "brothers," part of "our community" and Muslims who disagree should engage them with "internal discussion" and are instructed "not to expose them." Here are some of the highlights from this video.
First Ramadan starts by framing opposition to FGM as a critique coming from "outside the community" and stating that he opposes the calls for firing Elsayed:
Next Ramadan makes his argument that because FGM is defended by some Muslim scholars it qualifies as "part of our tradition" and is therefore worthy of being "promoted":
Then Ramadan shifts to attacking opponents of FGM, decrying them as Islamophobes, attacking MEMRI by name, and criticizing Muslims for wanting "to be perceived as moderate, open-minded":